Giveaway Time!
Like gift cards over cash? That's cool. Enter my $50 Kroger Gift Card Giveaway for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Kroger from All You! The giveaway begins April 7, 2014 and ends April 28, 2014. Good Luck! Click to enter the $50 Kroger Gift Card Giveaway here! Good luck!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Recycled Buttons? Oh Yes Please!

I was shopping at Joann’s for fabric for Christmas gifts. I found myself in the button section, not that I needed new buttons for my project; I planned on reusing some buttons from my grandmother’s button box because of course using what you already have is the greenest practice of all.

Well, that, and I have a ton of buttons in that box. They have sat largely unused because while I was in a costume sewing frenzy during our Renaissance festival performing years, I couldn’t use those buttons because they were plastic*.


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Yes, I designed, drafted patterns for most, and made everything from the skin out and hats on down for Husband and I with the except of the shawl (a gift from Mother-in-Law) and the vintage muff.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Habitat Restore Treasure Hunt

One of my favorite places to shop (and donate) materials for my creative reuse projects is the Habitat Restore. Several readers have asked me. “What’s the Habitat Restore?” The Restore is a thrift store that helps fund Habitat for Humanity so they can build houses for low income people. But this is no ordinary thrift store my friends, oh no! The Restore is a thrift store of home improvement supplies. I put on my Big Game Bargain Huntress pith helmet, grabbed the bathroom fan I replaced and wanted to donate, and hopped on down to my local Restore to poke a round. Here’s what I found.

The first thing to greet me when I walked in the door where these big silver Christmas trees. Love. They are shiny, would look perfect flanking my porch in two groups of three, and remind me of drag queens. Probably donated by the Limited Brands, Gap or some other store that’s based in Columbus. I want!

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Sadly storage is an issue. Maybe I could go with the baby ones? Instead of drag queen trees, I suppose that makes these little gems drag princesses?

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Add a Blanket to Your Bed Giveaway

My furnace is just a touch under the Energy Star rating, is less than 5 years old, and works well so we’re keeping it. However, I am able to make it run more efficiently by cleaning the reusable filter on the first day of the month (so I remember to do it) and by installing a programmable thermostat which sets the furnace to 62 degrees (F) when we sleep. Since I can’t sleep when I’m cold, I like to pile blankets on the bed during the winter. Make that a lot of blankets on the bed during the winter. Because I hate being cold. Hate. It.

Sadly, I can’t cut down on bed blanket bulk with a warm and cuddly down comforter. Husband is allergic to down (drat!) I had to find an alterative. I was surprised to find it in a microfiber blanket. Oh excuse, me a Classic Plush Blanket by Select Comfort, you know the Sleep Number mattress people?
 
I have to say I was intrigued because while I tried (and subsequently loved) cleaning with microfiber cloths I wondered what the heck makes a microfiber blanket any more special than a regular cotton blanket? Of course I realized right off the bat that a microfiber blanket is made with synthetic materials, so it isn’t a green product; however this was in its favor for us because of Husband’s allergy. As always, your mileage may vary.

I took the cotton quilt off of our bed and replaced it the Classic Plush Blanket. Well I must say that this blanket is aptly named
because it is soft and plushy and very, very warm which is surprised both husband and me because Classic Plush Blanket is quite thin. And warm. Did I mention the warm part? Much warmer than the cotton quilt the Classic Plush Blanket replaced (sorry Grandma.) So while the microfiber blanket itself isn’t a green product, it does allow us to do green things – keep our thermostat low during bedtime, use less energy, and not freeze to death. Yay microfiber blankets!

Friday, November 20, 2009

9 Fall Fix-Ups That Lower Your Winter Heating Bill

Winterizing the outside of your home in order to lower your energy use, save money, and lower your heating bills is as easy as a walk around the house, a walk around the outside of the house that is. Let’s stroll outside so I can show you how I seal up outside air leaks to prep the house for winter and keep my natural gas and electricity use - and bill - low.


9 Things You Need To Do To Lower Your Winter Heating Bill


1. Check for gaps outside of my windows. I have efficient double paned windows but even the most efficient windows will leak air because you’re still cutting a hole in your wall to install the window – duh. You can’t see it very well here because I calked the gap where the window frame meets the house with clear silicone caulk. I used clear because I wanted it to blend in and I didn’t want to have worry about finding the right color caulk for each area of the condo I needed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Green Moms Carnival: Saving Money through Green Means

This month, The Green Moms Carnival takes on the myth that going green means spending tons of money. I’m so excited to host this, my first Green Mom’s Carnival because the topic is close to my heart.
Unlike the message we constantly see in the popular green media, my fellow Green Moms demonstrate that you don’t have to spend exorbitant amounts of cash to green your life. Well, unless you want to, I suppose. Quite honestly, most of my favorite green living tips are the ones that save money as well as the world we live in. Yes, Virginia, you can have both.

Enough of my prattling, on with the Carnival!


Kid Stuff

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Conduct a DIY Home Energy Audit

Unlike some areas of the United States, my local gas and electric companies do not offer free home energy audits to their customers. After much digging on my gas company’s Website, I found a link to the Energy Star Website that allowed me to conduct a DIY home energy audit using their Home Energy Yardstick. Best of all this service is free. I like free. Free is good.



I entered information about my home from the last 12 months of my natural gas and electric utility bills, clicked Submit and hoped for the best. The Home Energy Yardstick gave me an energy performance grade (Below Average to Above Average) and a score on a ten point scale.

Once I found out how much energy my home used last year, I needed to check the energy efficiency of the structure and mechanicals. Pros do with this inferred cameras and blower door test gizmos. Fortunately I was able to find most of the same information on my own with a flashlight, a candle, and a some poking and prodding around the house.

How to Do a Free DIY Energy Audit in Ten Easy Steps

Thursday, November 5, 2009

6 DIY Recycling Ideas for Non DIYres

It only takes a short drive to go from my city that has a formal recycling program for glass, paper, metal, and plastic to tiny rural town America that tried and failed to make their city recycling program pay for itself. They reluctantly canceled the program.

In a situation like that I would take the DIY approach to recycling and reducing my household waste. But what do you do if you aren’t a DIYer, don’t have the skills, or time? Don’t worry; you can easily recycle items if you put your mind to it. Here are six DIY ways to reuse items even if you are not a DIYer.

Six Ways to Recycle When You Don't Have Time


1. Paint Halloween pumpkins instead of carving and use as food later. This year I painted my pumpkin which means it didn’t uh, self compost early like Husband’s carved pumpkin. The day after Halloween, I cut the pumpkin in half, scooped out the seeds for roasting, composted the goop, and then roasted, drained, and pureed the pumpkin for food. I froze 8 cups of puree from that pumpkin – that will make a lot of pumpkin soup!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Candyland Cake

Little Mr G. had a birthday. Birthdays mean cake. No crappy grocery store bakery cake for this kid. Mr G’s mom made a cake from scratch, plunked it on a clean and reused cake plank, and decorated it to look like one of his favorite game boards.


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Photo curtesy of Mr. G's mom

Candyland!

With real candy, yo.

Coolest. Cake. Ever.


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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Practically Green

When I got my free review copy of Micaela Preston’s book Practically Green Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making  I devoured it in almost one sitting. Yeah, I liked it that much.

Practically Green teaches readers how to make mindful green choices and not to get stressed out if you can’t 24/7 365 days out of the year. Micaela is one of the few green authors that I’d read in awhile that acknowledges that sometimes there isn’t a greenest of green answer for where you live or for what you need to do due to time, money, or location. She doesn’t make you feel guilty about it either. But she does encourage and show you how to find the greener way that works for you and with the way that you live. Practically Green is the kind of book that I would write if I wrote a book. (That’s supposed to be a compliment by the way.)

Practically Green gives many environmentally friendly options at all price points, has 30+ DIY projects, and some great recipes that can help you avoid a fast food meal or a junk food snack when time is short (try the Mexican Pizza Puffy – easy, quick and a hit when I made it for dinner!) Best of all, the book is peppered with anecdotes on the hits and sometime misses of Micaela’s green living adventures. It’s nice to know that a green living guru has some of those Oops moments like I do too.

I appreciate how each chapter in the book is broken down into “Buy It” and “Do It” sections because while I lean towards the DIY approach, sometimes I want to or have to go the Buy It route. The best example of this is in the Cleaning chapter. If you want to buy a greener cleaner Micaela tells you what chemicals to avoid in store bought cleaners in the Buy It section. She also offers tips on which brands of cleaners are more environmentally friendly and are more widely available. If you want to save some green and make your own cleaners, Micaela gives you an easy recipe for making your own room deodorizer spray (which I’m going to try soon) and all purpose cleaner in the Do It section.

If you’re looking for a green living book that isn’t preachy and offers a practical real world approach to environmentally friendly living you’ll find it in Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making. Be sure to check out Micaela’s blog Mindful Momma while you’re at it!

Disclosure: This post contain an affiliate link. If you make a purchase using the Amazon link in this post, I earn a small commission (really small) which will help me with my goal of making Condo Blues a self hosted blog at no additional cost to you. I didn't give this book a positive review so you would buy it, I honestly like this book have been scarfing every variation of the Pizza Puffy we can think of. I incourage you to buy before you buy - check if your local library has the book - mine does!